POSTED: Friday, November 06, 2009

Award-winning stage performer Lea Salonga returns to Honolulu next week to wrap up a two-month U.S. tour, and the trip couldn't come at a better time.

“;I can't wait to get to Honolulu,”; she said on Monday, shortly after landing in Toronto with her 3-year old daughter. “;I just have to be there and breathe the air and I'll be happy.”;

Her husband—who, like Salonga, has relatives who live in Hawaii—will join the family on Oahu in time for next week's performance at the Blaisdell Concert Hall; they also plan to help celebrate her grandmother-in-law's 89th birthday.

Salonga spoke about her current tour, her part-time job as a columnist for a newspaper in the Philippines, and shared her thoughts on the possibility of the Honolulu Symphony filing for bankruptcy during a phone conversation with the Star-Bulletin earlier this week.





        Where: Blaisdell Concert Hall, 777 Ward Ave.

When: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday


Cost: $39, $49 and $125


Info: (800) 745-3000 or hsblinks.com/18a


Note: $2 from every ticket will be donated to disaster relief in the Philippines.




QUESTION: Now that it's November, we can start to talk about 2009 as a whole. How did this year turn out for you?

ANSWER: It was an incredibly busy year, actually.

January was when we ended “;Cinderella”; in Singapore. I was on tour for about six months. We thought we were going to go into April, but because of the news about the economy ... we went home early.

I came to the U.S. in May and did a series of shows, and now I'm back again. And I've been working in Manila on a whole slew of stuff.

I sometimes get so busy where I don't know what day of the week it is. This is also the first year where my daughter went to preschool, so it was a very busy year for me on a personal note and a professional note.

Q: Does touring require a different mindset than performing a one-time concert?

A: (This tour) is, like, 19 shows stretched over two months. I kinda have to think of it as a marathon runner, not as a sprinter.

If I find out it's a one-off, I know I can blow my vocal cords that night and not have to worry about anything the next day. Whereas, I really have to pace myself when I'm doing a series of shows.

But I'll have a lot left in the tank when I come back to Honolulu.

Q: When you performed here in 2008, four years had passed since your last visit. What made you decide to come back so soon?

A: Well, Tom Moffatt was nice enough to ask. It's as simple as that.

I've got family and friends in Hawaii, so it's pretty much a no-brainer to come over.

Q: What will the Honolulu concert be like this time around?

A: It's basically me, with a band behind me, getting up in a nice frock and singing.

I sing a lot of musical theater, some Disney, and I always try to put in one or two Filipino songs. I'm very proud of Filipino music and Filipino songwriters and what we have to say.

Q: You also have a job writing a column for a newspaper in the Philippines. Does writing satisfy you the same way performing does?

A: It's different. I've never really had to deal with deadlines before. It's kind of like being back in college.

The toughest part, though, is finding inspiration—something new to write about every week. When I do a show, it's pretty much ... sing and go home.

But when I'm writing, I really have to figure out what it is I want to do. It's not easy.

Q: Earlier this week, reports surfaced about the Honolulu Symphony possibly having to file for bankruptcy. Any thoughts?

A: You're kidding me? No! When I hear that a theater company is closing or that a symphony is closing, it's like getting kicked in the gut.

The arts have to remain alive, because they're such a big contributing factor to our culture. Not too many people realize it, but the arts influence our children into being more creative. It's a power that cannot be underestimated.

The community needs to come together. If they pool even just a little bit of money to keep it alive, that would be something. It's an important part of our culture ... something that can only lend good things to the community.